MAL were crowned champions of the Middlesex Sunday League Division Three with a 65-run victory over Kensington & Chelsea.
Having joined the league over the winter, their success was confirmed when leaders Harrow St. Mary's match was abandoned, thus allowing MAL to edge home with a superior run rate.
With the opposition having failed to reserve their normal pitch there was a little initial confusion as to whether the game would go ahead, before a pitch was found.
It was very under-prepared and KCCC had no hesitation in inviting MAL to bat first. With the ball seaming and swinging it was difficult to get the bowling away although Mark Landau was able to get some crisp boundaries away.
Max Sherrard struggled to time the ball and eventually found a fielder to be dismissed for 5 by Kishor. Russell Corin joined Landau and the pair set about building a solid platform. They took the score to 85 at drinks, before Landau was caught at point shortly after, for a gritty 27.
Next man in Matt Plax was aggressive from the outset and he and Corin lifted the run rate in an enterprising stand of 59, which was interrupted for a short but very heavy rain shower,– though Plax’s dismissal for 26 saw MAL lose five wickets for 10 runs in fpir overs, with Corin falling for a valuable 49, Yoni Schurder (0), Gav Lebens (2_, and Tony Wise (3).
The tail added some useful runs to get MAL up to 181, with Yitzy Hill and Josh Begner making 8 and 5 respectively.
After tea, the returning Yoni Schurder and Tony Wise opened the bowling. The Kensington & Chelsea opening batsmen were ultra aggressive and went after the bowlers from the off.
There were some loose balls, and some poor catching, but some spectacular batting as they took the score to 58 without loss from just six overs, Schurder’s third over disappearing for 18 with two enormous sixes over long on.
MAL captain Gav Lebens had to change the bowling to try and stem the flow. This started with Sherrard’s first over just going for three, and then Michael Klinger picked up the dangerous Sandeep for 31 with his first ball, Yitzy Hill hanging on to a tough catch at mid-on.
Klinger picked up another wicket in his second over, the ball after being launched for six, a smart piece of bowling and swift work from Corin to stump the other gun KCCC batsman for 38.
None of the other KCCC batsmen looked as comfortable as the openers and MAL really started to get a grip on the game. Klinger’s third over also produced a wicket, Quintal caught behind by Corin, before Sherrard got just reward for his persistent accuracy, having Rav LBW for 3.
With the run-rate required still well below four, a sensible partnership could still have won the game for KCCC, but Klinger bowled James for 1. The sixth wicket prompted a swift end to the game, Sherrard taking two wickets in his final over, and Klinger two wickets in his final over, with some outstanding catches being taken. Particular mention to Tony Wise’s one-handed grab at short mid-wicket, and Gav Lebens for a diving grab at mid-wicket.
Given how well Kensington & Chelsea had come out of the traps, Sherrard and Klinger were outstanding, with figures of 3-17 and 6-31 respectively from their eight overs to totally take the game away from the opposition. It was left to skipper Gav Lebens to wrap things up, having his opposite number Pramod caught at mid on for 1.
MAL vice-captain Mark Landau said: “A return of eight wins from 10 league games represents a fantastic return, and we can only look forward to an assault on Division 2 in 2011.”
It was only confirmed on Tuesday that MAL had indeed won the title. Captain Gavriel Lebens said: "I'm very proud of the whole squad's efforts over the season. The success is down to a real team effort with lots of people making important contributions. Above all there has been a fantastic team spirit which has pulled us through in some very tight games. We look forward to building on this season over the winter and look forward to having a good crack at Division Two next year."
MAL maintained their winning formula on Bank Holiday Monday, beating Ruislip Victoria by 87 runs in a friendly.
With the at Camdenians Sports Ground pitch a little green but looking firm and with the weather pretty decent, Mark Landau opted to have a bat.
Ruislip’s bowlers started well and kept the pressure on. The outfield was slow, and boundaries were tough to come by. After 10 overs Landau and Josh Begner had only managed to muster 22 runs, but the changes of bowling released the pressure, with Landau able to put some short balls away.
Just as Begner was looking to find his feet, he lofted a catch and was dismissed for a battling 19 off 60 balls, with the score on 70 in the 18th over. Jamie Breslaw joined Landau and was immediately able to attack. At drinks the score was 88, and Landau brought up his half century in the first over afterwards off 48 balls, with a towering six over long-on.
The partnership between Landau and Breslaw garnered 88 runs, but was broken with Breslaw on the brink of a his own half century, as he walked across his stumps to be bowled for 49 in the 30th over.
Mark Lazar came in at four and he and Landau put on 52 in five overs, as Landau raced to his century, with the second fifty coming in just 30 balls. He was eventually caught behind off left-arm spinner Fry for 109 from 83 balls with one six and 17 4’s.
Dan Susser was out second ball for 1 in similar fashion, before Lazar’s innings of 16 was ended as he tried to find the boundary, giving Fry his fourth wicket. Michael Klinger came in at six and pushed the ball in to the gaps and ran well, though Yoni Schurder was bowled by the impressive Legg for 1.
Aubrey Sheena tucked the last ball of the innings away for a couple to take MAL’s total to an impressive 228 from their 40 overs.
Yoni Schurder and Anthony Cowan opened the bowling for MAL. Both were excellent from the off, Cowan finding prodigious inswing to bowl two batsmen in his first over. No batsmen could get on top of them, and the Ruislip score was only 6-2 after 10 overs.
With the game effectively already dead as a contest, Landau rang the changes and gave plenty of bowlers and opportunity to get some overs under their belt. There were useful spells from Leslie Allweis (0-17 from 4 overs), and Michael Klinger but it wasn’t until after drinks that MAL could make the next breakthrough, Josh Begner bowling Vijay for a hard fought 28, with the score at 47 in the 22nd over.
Dan Susser took the fourth wicket, Mark Lazar making good ground to take an over-the-shoulder catch. With the score at 84 in the 29th Ruislip captain Almeida cynically ran out opener Mitchell who admittedly had taken an inordinate amount of time in making 18. The sixth wicket at least generated a bit of fight, with a partnership of 33 before Mark Lazar picked up two wickets in three balls, bowling James Booth for 18 and then his brother Francis two balls later for 0.
Klinger returned to finish the innings off, bowling Legg for 4, running out non-striker Fry off the sole of his shoe for 4, and then having Vasa held at mid off by Lazar. Ruislip were all out for 141 after 37.5 overs.